Present & Presence

“Your Point of Power is in the Present.” Jane Roberts

This week I have been challenged time and time again to stay in the present moment. To remember that my power lies only here and now.  That the only action that I can really take, the only one that really matters, is what I do today.

The same is true for us spiritually: a spiritual life is not one lived on Sunday, or the 20 minutes of meditation that I might do each morning or evening.  Life is lived at every moment of every day. Being present in the Presence is something we do continuously, not just a brief reminder once a day.

As I have said in the “Shekinah: Living in God’s Presence“:

For me, practicing the presence means that we live in “oneness” with God and with all creation, at every moment of every day.

Easier said than done!

Being Present…

I find it hard enough just to be “present” – in the here and now.  Sometimes, I feel “scattered” – usually when I’ve been stressed, and especially when I’ve been trying to multi-task. A little bit of me here and another part of me there! And I’m definitely not all “here” – my mind and emotions are not all back together in one place and “present”.  I learned about 6 months ago a really interesting technique to “bring myself back”:  I just imagine that there is a small hole in the top of my head, and imagine pouring myself back into my body – asking all the parts of me that are all scattered all over the place to come back, and be here, right now. Imagination can be a powerful tool!

Suddenly, I am ALL here. Now.

In this moment in time — all back together.

I don’t know about you, but I get to be “absent”. I sit down to “be still” or to read or to meditate or pray – and I’m not all there! Part of me is still away working on something that is bothering me or that I haven’t finished. But our point of power is in the present moment – the here and now! I’m not much good if I’m not all here.

Sometimes, I am stuck in the past: whether it is reminiscing or beating myself up for not having done something as well as I might have. But it doesn’t matter whether it was 5 years ago, 5 days ago, or even 5 minutes ago: my point of power is only now! Philippians 3 reminds us:

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal…
And Isaiah 43: 18
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
In the same way, there’s no point in trying to “live in the future” – as this usually brings us anxiety, rather than peace. The only things that can be done for the future are those things which we can do today. And if they cannot be done today, there is nothing to be done about it!  How much time – minutes or hours – do we waste worrying away, rather than being active in this moment, exercising our power in the here and now.
The only power we have is now.

Presence

As I child, I was taught about God, upon a throne in heaven. So far away. So distant. All powerful. All knowing. “Omni-present”.

But not close.
Not comforting.
More like terrifying.
Yes – I was taught “God loves you”, and I remember hearing “God is love”, but that never meant for me: God. Is. Love. 

I mean: God is LOVE. Love is God. Not God is loving: but God is love itself.

Know I realise that God is everywhere and everything: in the air that we breathe, in life itself, the birds in the fields, the butterflies. God is timeless and time itself.

Everywhere, but nowhere.
Everything, but nothing.

Finally, the meaning of “tell them I AM THAT I AM” makes sense.

So, when I hear someone talk about God and refer to God as the Universe, I can roll with that, because I finally understood what they mean – God is not just God sitting on a throne in heaven. God is WAY bigger than that. God is the entire Universe itself, and beyond. When they speak of God as the Divine, absolutely. Or the Infinite. Or Source. Or Spirit. That’s all fine with me: and it brings me joy to start to understand that God is simply un-quantifiable, indescribable. There isn’t a word big enough that we have that could start to describe God. But I digress.

Living in the Presence means living in the presence of absolute love. Every day.

So,

How do we experience Presence?

We start by remembering to be still.  It’s only when we are still that we can hear that “still, small voice”.  When we are busy, our mind is throwing thoughts at us, about one per second if we are to believe the common idea that we think 70,000 thoughts per day!

When we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day, this means between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute per person. (Huffington Post)

That’s a lot of thoughts to sift through!

Admittedly, most of those thoughts are probably in our unconscious minds, rather than our conscious mind. But is it any wonder we don’t hear the still small voice? Suddenly, becoming still makes a lot more sense!

Secondly, Presence is something we have to practice and practice daily! If you are planning on running a marathon, you start by training.  If you can run regularly 5km, you can probably run 10km without much problem if you put your mind to it. But you are unlikely to make it to 21km, and much less to 42km!

And yet, we somehow think that we don’t need to practice Presence and Oneness with God!
How do we get still if we don’t practice regularly?
How do we learn to listen, if we don’t practice?

Like everything else in life, we experience Presence when we begin to practice Presence. When we make space and time in our lives for simply sitting and being One with God. When we give God room in our lives to be with us.

Practical steps

I, personally, finding sitting in silence (a bit like the Quaker way of worship) quite uplifting! I focus on calm, regular breathing. I focus on stopping all the mad rush of thoughts and just “Be still and know that I am“.
And I bring myself back to “Be still and know that I am.”

Practicing gratitude is another great way that I have found to “see” the Presence in my life. Especially as you read back through your gratitude later in the week or month, and you begin to see a pattern of simply the unexplained! The little miracles that you didn’t notice at the time, but you were grateful for, nonetheless.

And I journal, because I have found that as I look back over events, months later, I can see the invisible hand that guided me, molding me and guiding the path even when I thought I was making the decisions.
I especially try to take note of when the small still voice speaks – and write down the recommendations!
Be accountable, at least to myself: did I actually do what I was told?
Did I really listen? I had this great revelation: what did I do with it?  Hearing without doing is not listening – it’s only hearing!

Practicing Presence is really about the daily habits we form.
Making space.
Space to just be One.
Space to listen.

And then we do.

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